The Highs and Lows of Weekend DX’ing

A Saturday morning off work is a rare thing for me so when I get the chance to be by the radio at sunrise you can bet on me being there with a cup of English tea to start the day.

The past few days had seen the SFI drop to 71 after 12 consecutive spotless SSN days so when I saw the SSN edge up to 12 and the SFI up to 73 it didn’t really fill me with enthusiasm of a DX-full weekend, just hopeful of maybe a new one somewhere! The morning started quite good, some friends in Sweden each year choose an IOTA to operate from and you can bet that they will always be professional and provide something good to chase, using the call sign 7S6W and operating from Vinga Island EU-043. Sporadic E season has not started to well here in Coventry so I was not expecting to hear them when I saw 7S6W on the cluster on 14.260 MHz, but they were a solid S9 one call and they were in my log, I wished the team well and let them carry on. I tuned down the band and heard AH6S Tiff calling CQ on 14.198 MHz over the pole, now normally Hawaii creates a huge European pile up so when I heard no one reply I fumbled quickly with the footswitch and put my cup of tea down and answered his call, Tiff came straight back, just brilliant! Working Hawaii always gives me a buzz, this is what I wanted to start my Saturday.

That was about as exciting as it got that day until the evening when 17m and 20m opened up to the Caribbean and South America. J88CF Kumar in St Vincent was a great signal and that would be an all time new one for me, but the pile up was just out of control, no respect whatsoever from many of the undisciplined European operators. I was not going to join this zoo, I would rather miss a new one than get involved in bad behaviour. So I changed bands to 17m where I worked FS/N4ECW/P on St Martin Island, I am chasing yearly DXCC and this was a new one for 2010 so I was pleased to be able to work Dennis tonight. Also logged was VP5/PY2WAS Turks & Caicos Is, CP6UA Bolivia and NP2KW on the US Virgin Islands. It was getting late 2320 local time so I went back to 20m and to 14.227 MHz where Kumar J88CF was still working the pile up, but wait, listen! The EU zoo had gone, propagation by this time was moving further West and had closed to my South and East, looks like I have a clear shot at this, I “Fire up the Acom” it finishes its warm up, and I call “Mike Zero Uniform Romeo X-ray” Kumar hears me “The Mike Zero again?” I reply again and Kumar gets my full call, bang in the log number 285 for my all time DXCC. Pleased and with a big grin I tune both 20m and 17m and work a few more before I call it a night.

Sunday, another day, not much DX around again today, but ZS8M Pierre is spotted on the cluster on 20m, I listen and listen hard but no matter how much I concentrate that ESP signal is NOT going to jump out of the speaker and give me Marion Island! Pierre is still using wires and with sunspots scarce I am going to have to accept this is one that will not be in my log for a while yet. In the afternoon I got back into the shack at 3pm and 6m was showing signs of something promising. ZC4VJ Andy has been banging out CW & SSB Qs all day, it looks like I will have quite a few QSL cards coming in later this week from Andy’s weekend activity. I wait patiently until I hear his signal out of the noise, this would be a new band slot on 6m, its 30c in the shack, I can’t stand this damn heat in here. I was on 50.115 MHz, Andy was there, yes! He says listening up 5, I call, nope not this time, I call again “Hey Tim M0URX great to hear you” Yeah “Andy you are 53 thanks for the new slot” I Skype my mate G1VDP Chris and tell Chris to get on 6m, Andy says that he will send me a log update in the morning after he has had a sleep. That will be great I have lots of QSL requests to get through.

Back on the cluster I am keeping an eye on A92IO Dave in Bahrain, Dave is on 50.205 MHz listening up 5 – 10. His signal is very much in and out of the noise with the Sporadic Es today but at 5,200 Km’s this would be a great one to log! After about an hour of waiting, listening and more listening and quite a lot of calling I finally get through and Dave’s signal lifted to 53. Another new one on 6m! It has been an enjoyable weekend, thanks for the chase its been a good one!

Not staying up late tonight, I have an airport run to do at 5am so catch you tomorrow guys!

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Tim Beaumont